Braxton Jones career trajectory with Chicago Bears

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Braxton Jones did enough in his rookie season with the Chicago Bears to earn the chance to get a second full season at left tackle. The Bears went with a right tackle in the top ten and did not draft the position again, so Jones will be entering the year without much competition.

Braxton Jones career trajectory with Chicago Bears

Considering Braxton Jones is a day-three pick, and that is not where you can historically find long-term starting options along the offensive line, it is worth looking into which players Braxton Jones historically compares to. What are the typical outcomes of players who excel as a rookie, but still were a day three pick?

Since 2011, there have been just 13 players who were drafted on day three, but as a rookie played over 700 snaps, and spent the majority of them playing tackle. Those names include:

Dennis Kelly, Bobby Massie, Jordan Mills, David Bahktiari, Seantrel Henderson, TJ Clemmings, Joe Haeg, Dennis Daley, Jordan Mailata, Larry Borom, Michael Onwenu, Dan Moore, and Jamaree Salyer.

There a couple of big hits, and long-term starters from that list. Bahktiari was considered the best at his position for a time, and Jordan Mailata is currently one of the better-left tackles, protecting Jalen Hurts. Even Bobby Massie spent a long career starting in the NFL.

However, a lot of these players have ended up being solid depth options. Kelly, Mills, Henderson, and Haeg all saw multiple contracts in the NFL as a depth linemen. Dennis Daley is on this path and was starting on and off last season due to injuries. He just signed a second contract as a depth option for the Cardinals. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a lineman to replace Dan Moore, but he looks like a trusted backup, and Larry Borom is on the same path as Darnell Wright.

In the case of Jamaree Salyer, he started at tackle because of an injury to Rashaw Slater, so this year he is slotted to start at guard. Michael Onwenu also went from tackle as a rookie to a long-term option at guard. Really, the only player who made it just four seasons, and did not see a deal was T.J. Clemmings.

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Three of the 13 became starters at tackle, two became starters at guard, seven of them were just reliable depth options, and then there was the one miss. Needless to say, this season will be huge for him. It is hard to see him being a bust, and it is hard to see him moving inside to guard. So, the odds are that he either takes a step this year, and the Chicago Bears trust him moving forward, or he struggles, and eyes shift to the team drafting a tackle high in the 2024 NFL draft.